The rain fell heavily during the night cooling the breeze making it easy to sleep. Still sleep did not come easy to me as I kept thinking of the upcoming day and my meeting with ayuasca and a Shuar Shaman. After breakfast we gathered round the fire in the common area. Joining us was a local pet, a taper, something like a jungle pig, he seemed to enjoy listening to our group chatter. True to form, we were informed that Don Thomas our guide for the evening was stuck on the other side of the river and because of the rains would not be able to make the trip. I was devastated and began to sink into a melancholy mood. John's words on our first evening concerning personal roadblocks came to mind. I quickly began a breathing meditation to re-gather my emotions and focus as I lay in the hammock. The rains had also canceled our trip to the waterfalls, an accommodation I would latter be grateful of.
In the hopes of the rain calming down and the possibility of using a motor boat to ferry Don Thomas across I maintained my fast in preparation for the nights activities. We were told that if we were to partake of the ayuasca we would be required to only consume liquids during the day. As it turned out the rains stopped and Don Thomas made it across the river giving us a demonstration on the making of the ayusaca.
Placing an old black pot on the fire we were shown the plants and process for cooking up this magical elixir. While doing so, we were given the opportunity to try some local tobacco. Not like the cigarettes or cigars found in an average store, this tobacco was mixed with water and the water was then snorted in through the nose. Not a pretty site but the rush of the concoction provided a stimulating effect. The day was looking better, it seemed we would have our ceremony and our walk to the waterfall would be replaced by a shorter walk to the rapids for a cleansing ceremony.
As the day proceeded I began to explore the compound and surrounding areas. It was amazing how the rain fall that lasted through out the night had changed the rivers running by our compound. Once dry areas where not under water. The speed of the water traveling down the river took on a new vigor as it rushed passed us. Since the rains had stopped as a group we took a stroll through a fairly tame and easy to traverse path into the jungle. Our mission, another ceremony.
The walk through the jungle always included mud, steep inclines, beauty and danger. We were constantly reminded to walk like a Shuar, Stay focused, watch what was on the branch your hands grabbed onto. Personal responsibility was made clear to us, as well as watching out for the others in your vicinity. Many times I thought of myself as guard rail, helping others across hard to negotiate strips of jungle, hoping that in the process I would be able to maintain my balance.
As I explored our compound I was thrilled at the animals present, at their union with the family and each other. Some were pets today and dinner tomorrow, others. mischief makers or defenders of their territory. My favorite animal friend was the monkey. Attached to a child harness of sort, his restriction was based on our presence and his past delight in entering visitors cabins pulling apart whatever was in sight. There was a duck that whenever it saw one of our hosts children, would start chasing the child, our guess was it was looking for revenge from some previously executed child prank played against it. All in all a concoction of animals and people all living together.
Our ceremony took place by a small area of rapids. A cleansing process, we all got naked as we ventured into the water. The cold water shocking some, elicited many different entry techniques from our group. The jump in people, jumping into the water as they do in life, not knowing what they will find, but believing the will survive the experience. Then there are the tip-toe'ers each step into the cold water soliciting pain, so slowly they take small steps getting them selves adjusted to the temperature. Carefully stepping into life with plans for the future. A relaxing experience, an easy trek through the jungle and I netted an interesting rock from the river for my collection. On the way back it was time to clean the mud off our boots and store them so that the get dry and keep out any inhabitants.
Continuing to fast my anticipation of the evening grew. Looking for a life changing experience I was anxious to take place in the evening ceremony with Don Thomas. My anticipation was to experience that which we call God, that which the Shuar call Pachamama, to connect to a higher consciousness. A pretty ambitious undertaking.
We all gathered around the fire in the central circle joining our huts together. This was the moment of truth, those who would participate in the ayuasca ceremony declared their intentions and I was among them. With a light drumming in the background and a somber mood we each paired up with our buddy. Each of us had someone to watch over us for the evening. We in turn would watch over them when it was their turn the next evening. I sat, not wanting to break the somber mood I was in, scared of the effects the drug may have on me, scared of what I would see and experience, scared of what life would be like going forward.
Then my turn came, walking up to the shaman, I drank down the chalk like liquid following it down with a snort of Trago before returning to my place in the circle. I had anticipated the vomiting that we were told to expect. Sitting down, my spidy senses began to tingle in the anticipation. My awareness expanded to cover the entire group. My vision poor in the dark I listened to the sounds and focused on the shadows moving up to take their turn with the Don Thomas.
We were told to call out to the spirits to seek our spirit guide and ask them what they had to tell us.
After a while I became aware of the drug taking it's affect on my body. A tingling vibration spread over me as I realized my reaction time was changing, becoming slower making me more aware of my body. Closing my eyes I began to see images. I found myself staring into the mouth of a giant anaconda, it's mouth opening wide, it's eyes staring at me. I called out to it, eat me you bastard, try and take me, try and devour me if you can. Then the image faded, my eyes opened and once more I became aware of the others surrounding me. During the whole time under the influence not once did my eyes perceive a reality unknown to me. Now I began to hear the sounds of the others vomiting, reacting to their own experiences, though I did not feel the compulsion to purge and move on to the next step of the journey. Stuck in my own everyday reality I decided to walk, a little slow, my eyes struggling in the darkness, my journey still in it's infancy.
Others around me were crying as they dealt with their own demons. As for me my demons had not come out as I have made peace with them along my other journeys into my inner self. My companions were brave as the jumped into this process not knowing what would surface. The time ticked on and all of us had begun our trips. The sound of light drumming kept pace with the time as the Don Thomas prepare for the next stage of the adventure, the healing process. I watched fascinated as one by one each of us took advantage of the opportunity to be healed. The healing was to come once each of us purged the liquid we had in jested out of our system. I had not yet purged and was told not to focus on it, to instead let the process take me. Moving back to my hut I decided to lay down for a while and try and journey. Upon closing my eyes I saw new images. I was looking down on a large stadium, as if I was in a blimp looking on a football game taking place. But instead of a sports event I saw thongs of people on the playing field. The vision of the roman numeral 10 formed on the field. The colors were brilliant a bright yellow formed the field and red formed the number 10. The images were exciting and enjoyable, but I was unaware of my spirit guide. I began wondering if the Anaconda was my guide and began to get concerned that I had lost my chance to learn from it as instead of embracing it I challenged it. So much of my life I have challenged rather than embrace those around me. Was this another example of losing due to confrontation. A lesson became apparent to me, a lesson to welcome rather than fight what lay in front of me.
My turn finally came for the healing. I laid down on the narrow bench removing my shirt. A rattle was dancing along my body, Don Thomas was chanting and I felt the stinging liquid of the Trago shoot from his mouth covering my face and chest. I became aware of a new power energizing me. Feeling strong I laid back and let the process continue. I could hear Don Thomas spitting as he sucked the spirits blocking me out of my body and I continued to feel stronger and more energized. My body felt leaves rubbing up against it sliding over the Trago covering my body. I lay relaxed and calm despite the unusual circumstance. Finally someone helped me sit upright, stand, and move away to make room for the next healing.
I went back to my cabin to lay down, but I was not sleepy. Then while laying in the bed I felt the urge to purge. Finding my way in the dark to the bathroom wondering if the previously sited bat was still laying in wait there. I will not fill my readers in on the details, and suffice to say that with little effort my body purged the
Still buzzing my body vibrating, I decided to go outside. I was not alone outside, bummed a cigarette and let someone help me as my hand holding the cigarette continued shaking. As I write this 6 months latter from memory it is a memory vivid with the imagery of the night. A moon filled night, the trees surrounding me in the jungle, I in a shaky voice related my physical and emotional state to others of my group. It was an interesting story of fear, strength, desire, and loneliness. My ability to articulate my emotions were met with reactions and insights from my friends, some of it valid, some of it more about them than me, little of it that I was not already aware of. I found at some point that I got defensive trying to get them to see me rather than their self filtered image of me. Finally it was not important, I simply took in what they were saying, listening and letting them release their emotions, not unhappy that I did not get what I had originally set out to get. The experience did help to bond we three voices in the night. As cigarette smokers and confidants we shared much of the rest of the trip with each other as well as looked out for each other along the way.
The night went on, we talked for a long time, though how long I have no idea. Getting tired I went back to my bed and to sleep.
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This Page was last Updated on 01/29/2013
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This Page was last Updated on 01/29/2013